Alliance to Stop Foodborne Illness

A Consumer-Industry Initiative to Influence Human Behaviors and Impact Internal Food Safety Cultures

Introduction

The Alliance is an initiative of Stop Foodborne Illness (STOP), leading food companies, and other organizations committed to the goal of preventing foodborne illness.  For 25 years, STOP has communicated the compelling personal stories of individuals and families who have survived a serious foodborne illness or the death of a loved one.

The goal of communicating personal stories is to make clear why food safety must be a central value of the food system.

In a data driven world, giving a voice to those who have experienced the greatest impact of foodborne pathogens is a critical component in motivating people to understand that they literally hold lives in their hands and, through that understanding, reduce hazards and prevent illness.

Vision

Conveying compelling personal stories about the consequences of foodborne illness will help motivate people at all levels of industry to follow their established science-based protocol every day to make food safe.

Mission

The mission of the Alliance to Stop Foodborne Illness is to:

  • Forge partnerships between STOP and leading food companies to build trust and support strong food safety cultures.
  • Collaboratively design and implement innovative, well-tailored programs that make compelling personal stories an integral motivational element of food safety culture and training programs.
  • Expand the reach and impact of personal stories through outreach to the small and medium size companies that are key contributors to modern supply chains.

Background

Stop Foodborne Illness is a national, non-profit public health organization dedicated to the prevention of illness and death from foodborne pathogens.  It was founded in 1993 by individuals and families who had directly experienced serious illnesses and deaths associated with E. coli O157:H7 and other deadly bacteria.  For more than 25 years, the organization has supported and represented illness victims, advanced public understanding of foodborne illness, and supported public policies and industry practices that strengthen prevention.      

The founding and continuing mission of Stop Foodborne Illness is to make it unacceptable for anyone producing food for consumers to fail to do everything they reasonably can to prevent illness. The organization had a major impact on meat safety reforms in the 1990s.  STOP later worked with other consumer groups and the food industry to achieve enactment of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA), which codified the principle of regulatory accountability for prevention.

Over the years, numerous positive interactions by STOP constituents with farmers, food companies, and industry associations on the human dimension of food safety have shown how the unique voice of those directly affected by foodborne illness can contribute to strengthening food safety culture and practices within food businesses, beyond the minimum required by regulations.

Even with this progress, successful implementation of the principle of prevention every day at every level of our large, complex and diverse food system remains a major food safety obstacle. Stop Foodborne Illness believes the motivation provided by its compelling personal stories and the same kind of multi-sector dialogue and collaboration that led to enactment of FSMA can contribute to meeting Today’s food safety challenges.

Through the Alliance to Stop Foodborne Illness, those directly affected by foodborne illness are provided the unique opportunity to work in innovative ways with the food industry to foster continued improvement in food safety. There is no other vehicle like it for enabling ongoing collaboration on food safety between food companies and consumers.

What makes the Alliance possible?

The Alliance is made possible by the shift that has occurred in recent years toward more cooperative approaches to food safety, as reflected in the consumer-industry coalitions and STOP’s ongoing successful engagement with food companies, large and small.

The change is grounded in strong alignment among many industry leaders and consumer and food safety advocates on the goal of preventing illness through best practices, continuous improvement and strong food safety cultures.

This makes it possible to create a space in which consumer advocates, food companies and others committed to the common goal of preventing foodborne illness can collaborate in new ways and, based on performance and consumer-industry dialogue, strengthen consumer confidence in how food safety is being managed.

Who is participating in its development?

STOP’s Board of Directors, in collaboration with member food companies are coordinating the Alliance by a Planning Committee that includes:

  • Lauren Bush, STOP board co-chair, foodborne illness survivor, and leading food safety advocate;
  • Michael Taylor, STOP board co-chair and former FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine;
  • Mitzi Baum, STOP CEO;
  • Michael Alderson, Alliance Manager
  • Charlene Brown, STOP constituent, mother of foodborne illness survivor;
  • Scott & Richelle Shields, STOP constituents, parents of foodborne illness survivor;
  • Gillian Kelleher, STOP board member and Vice President of FS and QA at Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.;
  • Randy Huffman, Chief Food Safety and Sustainability Officer, Maple Leaf Foods; 
  • Craig Wilson, STOP board member and Vice President/GMM, Costco Wholesale.

What does the Alliance do?

The specific activities of the Alliance are determined collaboratively by the STOP board and Alliance participants and will very likely evolve over time. 

Current activities include:

  • Working with member companies to identify speakers whose compelling stories and life experiences can be shared in customized delivery vehicles to suit an individual company’s needs;
  • Accessing innovative ways to convey the power of stories and integrate them into a company’s on-going employee motivation and training programs;
  • Furthering dialogue and deepening relationships between participating STOP constituents and member companies, building a foundation of trust and greater understanding for even stronger, more relevant collaboration;
  • Creating a contingent of Alliance members that collaborate on the development of unique opportunities to extend the reach of STOP’s personal stories to their individual supply chains and affiliates.

What principles will guide the development of its governance and operating practices?

The Alliance is currently comprised of for-profit, and non-profit organizations, each with their own purposes and accountabilities operating independently in their own spheres. Each member employs their own unique methods to strengthen food safety culture while coming together and pooling their efforts to advance shared food safety goals.

To make the Alliance successful, some key governance and operating principles are observed, including: 

  • STOP’s identity, role and autonomy as a consumer organization representing individuals and families directly impacted by foodborne illness is maintained, including the prerogative to take independent public positions on policy issues;
  • Stop and food industry partners share equal footing in shaping Alliance programs, with mechanisms to ensure that the Alliance does not conduct programs or take other actions to which either objects; and,
  • Alliance-generated funding is used to strengthen Stop’s capacity to represent and support those directly affected by foodborne illness and play a substantive role in broader and more impactful delivery of their personal stories.

For more information contact: Michael Alderson, Alliance Manager

Mobile: 773-899-0781 (call or text)

The following members are committing time and resources to the development of the Alliance:
Amazon, California Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (LGMA), Cargill, Coca-Cola, Conagra, Costco, Empirical Foods, Maple Leaf, Mars, Nestle, Walmart, Wegmans and Yum! Brands.